Monday, August 19, 2013

Involution & Evolution – Taiwan 2013

When prof. MingFen sent me an invitation to be one of the keynote speakers at the International Conference on Social Environmental Education for Emerging Eco-Civilisation, I responded positively with a great pleasure for two main reasons (at the time):

1) Taiwan was for me one of the leading high-tech countries in the world. Being a computer engineer by my formal education I was excited to learn more about the computer industry in the country. To be able to see how people in Taiwan relate to global trends, how they think, how they make decisions, how they get their systems in place to cope with the challenging new world, how they maintain the humanity aspect of life.
International Conference Social Environmental Education for an Emerging Eco-Civilization, Enacting Unbounded Collaboration and Evolutionary Development for “Glocal” Eco-Communities: A New Paradigm of Public Engagement and Social Innovation
NTNU, Japan, Taiwan 21 – 22 July, 2013
Language: English, Chinese

Glocal = Global and local
2) The topic for my paper, which was proposed to me by the organizers, caught me by surprise, and challenged me to think beyond my regular paths; opening a new point of view of the work I had been engaged in.

Paper: & presentation: “Connecting Evolution and Involution to Create a Positive Foundation for an Eco-Civilization”, V. Bulc,  NTNU, Taipei, Taiwan 2013.

Workshop: Collective Dialog on Green Social Innovation; Participants: 60 representatives from the Industry, Government, Academia, Research, and NGOs; Hosted by: MingFen Li & KingKong Lin, Alexandr Laszlo & Violeta Bulc

Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organization, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins. Source:, June 2013

Involution (Meher Baba), the inner path of the human soul to the self
Involution algebra, a *-algebra: an algebra equipped with an involution Source:, June 2013

Photo: Taiwan faculty transparent
Source: Vibacom
Once I arrived to Taiwan I had learnt quickly that the title of my paper was not the only surprising moment that I was going to be exposed to at my visit. A week of Taiwan offered much more. The experiences I hold are deep, profound, and inspiring.

So, let me share with you few of those moments and hopefully they will be articulated well enough to bring you on board of this important journey.

1. The people and the architecture
My first touch with the country was through the people and the architecture at the airport.  
The architecture: the airport was spacey, bright, and clean with a big, colourful dragon looking at us from below the ceiling and smiling.  This was our first exposure to modern Taiwan in a series of many that followed: the second tallest building in the world, some faceless buildings that reminded me of Slovenian ones from the same era, profoundly designed housings with refreshing green areas and ecologically conscious details. At the same time I was able to see that the society is trying to be conscious of people and people’s well being, too.  Recycling in Taiwan went a step further. It is hard to find a trash bin in the city. People have to take their garbage home and recycle it properly. 

The people: The students that welcomed us at the airport made very colourful and happy signs with our names on them. We have to smile even though we were very tired (arriving straight from the conference in Vietnam). In the hotel room was waiting another little surprise from our hosts - little goodies from Taiwanese cuisine. And that set the pace for the entire week – through out the conference and the associated business trips around the island, our hosts made sure that we noticed every single detail about their culture, their progress, their way of thinking, understanding and acting on the local, regional, and global level.

Photo: Mango ice cream
Source: Vibacom
I really loved their profound thoughts about life, collaboration, participation and sensitivity for the communities. I could sense the influence of the Buddhist teachings as an underlying spiritual layer of support in their relationship with the ever-changing life. Meeting with the director of the Buddhist institute, who surprised us all with his curiosity and willingness to listen and learn, just confirmed my initial thoughts.
Photo: The new Buddhist Center (Chung Tai Chan Monastery)
Source: Vibacom
In Taiwan I often felt like at home in a very positive way: I could sense their  high respect for culture, I could see many practical solutions used to deal with every day life issues, I noticed gardens everywhere, I could feel the respect for ecologically produced food, openness, and pride in small things that have a very deep vibrations. Like our visit of a local artist that is consider to be the greatest ceramic master of our time, getting closer to the ancient knowledge of ceramic crafts than anybody else before him, and who lives a simple, dedicated life in his workshop in the Puli region. Many times only the Chinese writings reminded me that I am actually in a foreign country. A deep bow to my hosts for all the experiences, knowledge and wisdom I was exposed to and had a privilege to embrace on this trip.

Photo: Master of cheramics
Source: Vibacom
2. The conference
The conference that brought us to Taiwan had an exciting title (as shown above). The content exposed by presenters through out the conference, and later on followed by the workshop, supported the title fully.  The stress of the conference was on holistic and systemic practices for eco-environmental sustainability, on cross-cultural cooperation and innovation of “glocalized” eco-communities, on the importance of systemic thinking in public engagement and in eco-development, and on capacity building for green social enterprises.

I was very happy that the Slovenian cases, which I presented as part of my presentation: Challenge:Future (C:F), Heart of Slovenia, InCo Movement and BTC sustainable strategy, caught a lot of attention and admiration.

All 4 presented cases have several points in common: they all have imbedded in their business model social and/or a business innovation (unique way, passion, inspired by the source, serving individuals and groups) and systemic approach; they all have identified and connected points of prosperity; they all intertwine evolution and involution in their process.

My main point was that there is an intertwining relationship between the development of an organization (projects) (evolution) and the development of an individual(s) (involution) that are part of the project, especially of the one who was the owner of the initial idea.  I also pointed out the core behaviours that are encouraging me to believe that the emergence of a new civilisation is already occurring, i.e., open (innovation) ecosystem, global values, awareness, conscious, networks, value creation by cross structural co-operations, participation, rise of systemic thinking.

Photo: The conference poster
Source: Vibacom
I realized that the conference participants share the awareness of the same global challenges (even on a local level),  and that we need to continue building a global network of good-practice cases to be able to learn from each other and together create thrivable solutions. Those can be created only in an open innovation space, beyond geographical borders and political barriers. Such thoughts are the foundation of the emerging global civilization.  With every successful implementation of a collaborative solution, I can feel the energy of the new civilisation be more and more present in our day-to-day lives. 
The workshop with the participants of the local innovation ecosystem in the “I-see-you-cafĂ©” just re-confirmed that. Even though many did not speak English and neither I nor Alexander could not speak Chinese, we were able to, with some on the site translation, build a very active, dynamic, participatory workshop where people exchanged their views on selected topics.

At the end we even built a simple action plan. All cases were real, proposed to the audience by the local NGOs or communities. The core challenges were similar to those that we encountered at the workshops in the Heart of Slovenia Region or we could read about on the C:F portal (identified by the youth): lack of education, lack of communication, lack of  the right information for decision making, lack of collaboration and innovation.
Photo: Mid-workshop results/posters
Source: Vibacom
We overcame them by identifying the participants model, the core challenges, the core enablers, and the core actions. It was great to see how many teams used the “U” method (also used by the members of InCo movement). There was a lot of joy, laughter, lively discussions, and proud presentations in the room. Thank you Taiwan for this experience and a privilege to be part of the team of moderators.

Photo – Taiwan workshop
Source: Vibacom
3. The system science 
The conference and the supporting program in Taiwan just re-confirmed that system science and system thinking is strengthening all over the world, offering a platform for sustainable and thrivable solutions. Only when you connect all participants that are involved on the input or output or on a supporting level in problem solving, you can come up with a sustainable solution. Many state administrations have learnt that, as well… I can only hope that Slovenia will move into this direction, as well.

Photo – Taiwan workshop
Source: Vibacom

When I look back, I can see that we were exposed to a really large scope of diversity in Taiwan. We met incredible people, we learnt about many interesting projects, we saw beautiful nature, museums, Buddhist centres, local elementary and high schools, we met artists at work and people in action. I forgot to even ask about the high-tech industry. If it was not for the fact that I had the HTC mobile phone that was made in Taiwan (what many people proudly pointed out), I would have completely forgotten about the high-tech side of Taiwan. Maybe that information itself could make us think, too?!

Oj, Violeta

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